News of the CIA arming Syrian rebel insurgents comes at a time when the Obama administration has conceded that diplomatic talks are still on the table. The U.S. has been providing arms to Syrian rebels for the last few weeks, reports CNN on Sept. 12.
Shipments of weapons have been entering the Middle East country since late August. Non-U.S. made light weapons, including anti-tank weapons and ammunition, are reportedly being provided to the rebel army. Syrian rebels have been involved in a two-year civil war with President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.
In addition to the weaponry, the U.S. has also been providing “non-lethal aid” in the form of tactical information and intelligence reports conducted by the CIA.
The U.S. sanctioned flow of weapons into Syria marks an escalation in the involvement in the Syrian conflict, and evidently began before president Obama announced in his address to the nation Tuesday night that he was pulling back on his request for Congress to approve a military strike.
During the previous two years of internal conflict raging in Syria, President Obama said Tuesday he had “resisted calls for military action, because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” but that the “situation profoundly changed, though, on August 21st, when Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The images from this massacre are sickening: Men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas.”
News of the U.S. weapons influx also comes within a day of Russian president Vladimir Putin taking the unusual step to write an op-ed piece in the New York Times, appealing to the American people directly and espousing the values of averting a war with Syria.
The weapons were confirmed by the CIA; oddly, the rebel insurgents deny the receipt of any weapons cache.
“That is something we are not going to dispute, but we are not going to publicly speak to it,” a CIA official said regarding the alleged weapons shipment to Syria.
Free Syrian Army Political and Media Coordinator Louay al-Mokdad said something different.
“We have some promises from the U.S. administration of shipment of weapons in a short period of time, but until now we have not received any,” al-Mokdad said Wednesday.
“We have logistical help, but we didn't get weapons. We hope that in the next short period of time we will start receiving weapons, because we have promises from [European Union] countries and the U.S. that they will help us and support us.”